Tens of thousands of comic books, vintage collectibles, your favorite comic book creators, and intricately detailed costumes worn by avid fans and professional cosplayers alike.
Comic book conventions are colorful and frenetic. They’re a blast!
More importantly, though, if you’re a comic book creator, they’re venues for marketing your business. That artist alley table at a comic con can be the first step to putting your work on display in the real world and becoming known to fans.
You might even get your work in front of talent agents and comic company talent coordinators. Some of the larger conventions even have portfolio reviews so that your work can be assessed by major comic companies directly.
In some cases, even if you don’t expect to make much money, it may be worth it to pay for an artist alley table to potentially have your work seen by large crowds or by influencers looking for new talent.
If that is your goal, choose the show wisely. The reality is, the smaller the convention, the less likely you are to be discovered by an agent, comic company representative or a Marvel/DC/Image talent scout.
When to make comic cons a part of your routine
Many new comic creators feel pressure to attend conventions. There’s a feeling that if you aren’t a part of the circuit you aren’t legitimate.
Everyone wants to be included and feel like they’re part of the scene, but don’t let your ego drive your business decisions. Before you start hitting the comic con circuit you should be fairly confident that they will help you achieve some concrete goals.
Reasons to attend a comic book convention
- sell enough books and prints to make a profit
- generate reader interest for your stories and characters
- get in front of influential people, like talent agents or publishing company talent coordinators
- make connections and build friendships with other creatives
Unfortunately, especially at smaller shows, the last item is the only goal that gets accomplished. Everyone pats each other on the back and talks about all the fantastic and groundbreaking independent projects floating around the floor.
While socializing with other writers and artists will help you develop your network and is not a complete waste of time, it’s an activity probably best saved for after-show gatherings.
Conventions are as much a part of your business as production and printing, but you need a plan and a budget to reap the benefits. If you can’t accomplish any of the other things on the list above, then it’s not a good business choice to be there.
How to make smart choices about comic conventions
- Don’t attend too many cons until you know you’re making money from them. Until you’ve reached the point where you’re an invited guest with your expenses paid, each convention you take part in costs money, and if you go to too many of them that don’t result in profits, you’ll run through your cash very quickly.
- Be choosy. Actively select the cons where you’ll have the best chance of making money.
- Take into account expected visitor attendance, and the costs of the table and other expenses.
- Put a plan in writing. Calculate your costs and your projected sales. You might still attend a con because of its other benefits even if you expect to break even or make very little money. What you don’t want is to be surprised by a big loss.
Not sure how to figure out if you’ll make money?
For a step-by-step guide, download the free Comic Con Cost-Benefit Calculation, which you can find inside the Member Hub if you’re logged in. It’s free to join, and all you need to provide is your name and email address.
Comic book marketing: How to get in front of readers
What to take with you to sell at comic conventions
Comic Con Preparation and Setup (Member Hub, must be logged in to view and download)